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Pop-Rock Lydian II Progressions


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Pop-Rock Lydian II Progressions

The "I-II-IV-I" Pop-Rock Lydian II Progression gets its name from the harmonized Lydian scale where both the "C" and "D" major chords occur naturally. Notice that this progression moves from the "II" to the "IV" chord as opposed to the expected circle of fifths movement to the "V" ending the sequece with a Plagal cadence. The Beatles were the first songwriters to capitalize on this progression beginning with the verse to their 1965 hit Eight Days A Week". For at least a hundred years prior, songwriters followed the "II" chord with the "V-I" authentic cadence creating the "I-II-V-I" progression. The "I-II-V-I" progression was used to write songs such as Aura Lee verse (George Poultant & W. Fosdick - 1864), (I'm A) Yankee Doodle Dandy chorus (Standard - 1904), By The Light Of The Silvery Moon verse (Standard - 1909), I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover verse (Standard - 1927), Salty Dog verse (Flatt & Scruggs - 1950), Hey, Good Lookin' A section (Hank Williams - 1951), Love Me Tender verse (Elvis Presley - 1956), Those Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer verse (Nat King Cole - 1963), and Mr. Tambourine Man verse (Byrds - 1965).

Several examples of the Pop-Rock Lydian II Progression are shown below in the key of C.

Eight Days A Week (Beatles - 1965) verse progression
You Won't See Me (Beatles - 1965) verse progression

C / / / D / / / F / / / C / / /

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Beatles - 1967) verse progression

C / D / F / C / C / D / F / C /

Alan W. Pollack talks about the progression this way in his Notes on ... Series. "Harmonically, the song is heavily based upon one of the archetypal Beatles' chord progression; the I - V-of-V - IV - I one first heard back in "Eight Days A Week". The hallmark of this progression is the combined chromatic cross-relation and psychological feeling of deferred gratification created by following V-of-V (with its C#) by IV (with its C-natural). I strongly suspect that this chord progression is the original property of Lennon and McCartney though in terms of pure scholarship I unfortunately cannot vouch for it 100%. I'll tell you this, though: if anyone out there can point me to an example of this progression appearing in a pop song prior to the Beatles, you can call or e-mail me just about any time of the day or night." (Excerpt from Notes on ... Series)

Other examples of the Pop-Rock Lydian II progression include Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band verse (Beatles - 1967), To Sir With Love verse (Lulu - 1967), Ride Captain Ride verse (Blues Image - 1970), Stay With Me verse/chorus (Faces - 1972), You Won't See Me verse (Anne Murray - 1974), The Boys Are Back In Town chorus (Thin Lizzy - 1975), and All Around The World chorus (Oasis - 1997).

Click below for the best in free Pop-Rock Lydian II lessons available on the web as well as links to several song examples.

Eight Days A Week (Alan W. Pollack's Notes on ... Series)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Alan W. Pollack's Notes on ... Series)
You Won't See Me (Alan W. Pollack's Notes on ... Series)

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